Purusha and Prakriti

Guruji spoke a bit about Prakriti and Purusha in his talk in Bali the other day. Extracted from Art of Living’s Wisdom blog:


Our consciousness has three qualities, the whole universe has got five qualities.

1. Asti: Existance

2. Bhati: There is consciousness, it feels

3. Preeti: love

4. Nama: Name

5. Rupa: form

For every name, there is a form. In the material world, there is name and form. The body is a matter, mind is energy. The whole universe is made up of body and mind, matter and energy.

Energy exists, it is conscious and is love. Matter is just the name and the form.

The ancient people called this whole universe as prakriti and purusha,matter and consciousness. What do you think you are? Are you the body or mind? Most of the time we think we are the body. Our body is like the wick of a candle, the mind is like the glow all around it. Our mind or consciousness exists and it is called love.

Prakriti or matter changes. Everything is changing in the world, right? Purusha, the reference point, doesn’t change.

So, think for a moment. Just wake up and think, “I am not the body, I am not the mind, not the matter.” It brings such a shift, in your behaviour and in your interaction.


Sri Krishna, while revealing his divinity to Arjuna, talks about the distinction between Prakriti and Purusha. I love the way, Sri Krishna describes the characteristics of Prakriti and Purusha and never tire of reading The Bhagavad Gita over and over again.  This post we explore these two concepts. (The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, verses 4 and 5)

Jack Hawley translates these verses as:

First, know that I have two aspects, a lower and a higher. My lower self is the realm of Nature (Prakriti). According to the ancient system of knowing, this is comprised of eight basic components: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect and ego. Note that these components are arranged in the ascending order from gross matter to the more subtle and refined: mind, intellect and ego. And note that all eight of these components, even the very subtle ones belong to Prakriti, the cosmos, the world of nature.

Beyond this world of nature I have a second, higher aspect that is distinct from all of nature and yet interacts with it. This is my Spiritual Realm (Purusha). Purusha is the life force, the source of consciousness in all beings, and the animator of all life. This mysterious power supports and sustains the entire universe. The comingling of these two realms, nature and spirit is the womb of all beings. Life itself originates in this union of nature and spirit. The entire universe evolves from these two aspects of Me, and will finally dissolve into Me.

Eknath Easwaran writes: 

Purusha is the eternal spirit, the Atman, or Self, beyond all change and limitation. Everything else, everything that is subject to change, belongs to the realm of Prakriti, the world of birth, decay and death. The body, of course, is part of Prakriti, made up of 5 elements it was assembled in the process called birth and will one day be resilved back into its constituents in the change called death. We like to think of the body as relatively stable, but this is becuase our vision is so limited. If we could see more deeply, we would see that every cell of the body is in constant change. It is just the same with the mind. If we could perceive our thoughts more clearly – as we gradually learn to do through the practice of meditation – we would see that our interior world, too, is in a constant state of change. So prakriti includes not only the material world of matter and energy, but emotions, thoughts, and ego as well. All these come together when our body was born, and all will go their separate ways again at the time of death.

In another context, Guruji explained the concept of Purusha as follows:

The `Aatma’ is also called `Purusha‘. `Puru’ means `City’ and `Purusha‘ means `Resident of a City’. Purusha is blemishless and eternal. But, when negative feelings come, purusha experiences bondage. Pure emotions steeped in knowledge leads one to moksha. Feelings devoid of knowledge create negative feelings. These unsettle us. Alongside create bondage. Being aware of the praana and the sensations in one’s body is the only way to end negative feelings. 


One thought on “Purusha and Prakriti

  1. Thank you for sharing this fundamental knowledge in such a concise way.

    It is a joy to come across information that has been presented with such clarity and focus.
    My spirit was uplifted.

    Om shanti

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